"I think that all people who were not exposed to those tragedies should watch it. They are tragedies that happened and should not be forgotten. For me, it was a special thing. I went through it . . . when I see the documentaries, it all comes back . . . It makes me sick."
Krystyna Grynberg is still not sure she will be watching Sunday night when the first episode of "Holocaust," four-part series depicting the Nazi extermination of European Jews, begins on television.
Much of the film deals with the period from 1935 to 1945, when she a child in Poland and her father, a soldier in the Polish army, was killed fighting the Nazis. Her mother, though a Christian, was accused of supporting the Jews and was imprisoned, beaten and tortured. Grynberg says she's not sure she wants to go through "a week of nightmares" watching the film.
Her husband, Henryk, a Polish Jew who survived the holocaust because his family posed as Christians, will be watching. He wants their 9-year-old daughter to watch, too. The world needs to be reminded that this event happened . . . The potential for such horror is still here," he said.
While Jewish organizations and leaders in the Washington area have strongly recommended the film and plan supplemental activities to coincide with it, the conflict of emotions found in the Grynberg home is common.
Some question whether TV drama is (WORD ILLEGIBLE[ proper forum to Portray what one local Jewish (WORD ILLEGIBLE] called "the most unique crime in the annals of mankind." Others question their own tolerance leve- and whether they can withstand the scenes of concentration camp life and the vivid reminders that millions of Jews were once gassed and cremated in death chamber (thus the word "holocaust," meaning total destruction by fire).
Charles Fenyvesi, an editor at the national Jewish Monthly, reacted angrily to the idea of a TV serialization of what he termed "an issue so important as to be sacred."
"There is something about the publicity surrounding this thing that really upsets me . . . it's the way a whole industry has sprung up around the film. There's now a paperback to coincide with the airing of the shows . . . I'm surprised there's no ice cream named after the event, or, more appropriately, a soap." Fenyvesi, himself a survivor of the Nazi takeover in Budapest.
Many parents are questioning whether their small children should watch the series.
The Jewish leadership in the area has launched a massive information campaign to encourage both Jews and non-Jews to watch the series.
"This is a very good thing because the world should know what went on," said Abe Malnik, who survived four concentration camps and now, at 51, lectures in schools on the holocaust as a member of the Club Shalom.
"We are the last of the survivors. I must tell people my story while I'm alive . . . It's been 30 years (since the war), but for this new generation it might as well be 2,000 years ago. Even the new generation of Jewish children forget."
The holocaust, says Daniel Mann, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, has become a part of the " Jewish historical memory" - the focal point of the Jews' long history of persecution. After the war, it became "the final cliching argument" for the creation of a Jewish national homeland, Israel.
But in the past two decades, the holocaust has become more and more of a socially unmentionable topic, he said. Just as "Roots" forced white America to face the historic facts surrounding slavery, it is hoped in the Jewish community that the film "Holocaust" will remind the world of the tragedy of Hitlerism, Mann said.
"Some people are saying that they just won't be able to bear it," said Elaine Mann of the Jewish Community Center in Rockville. "We are saying that's exactly why you should watch it."
Mann said she has noticed that many of the center's members who are in their 20s and too young to remember anything about the war are relunctant to watch the film. "They don't want to subject themselves to it . . . It's the idea that if you don't know about it, it won't hurt you."
To encourage people to watch the film written by Brooklyn-born writer Gerald Green, the Jewish Community Council circulated some 40,000 family viewing guides. The guides give a synopsis of the plot, paralleling the lives of three Berlin families during the war, and provide discussion questions for each episode.
Study guides were also sent out to superintendents of schools and social studies teachers throughout the area as well as non-Jewish religious organizations.
Discussion groups on the film will be held in synagogues and schools throughout the area and there will be lectures on the holocaust by some of its survivors at Maryland University and American University, according to Marlen Gorin, of the Jewish Council's Holocaust Memorial committee.
The Jewish Community Center in Rockville has canceled most of its evening activities on the four nights (Sunday through Wednesday) that the film will be broadcast to encourage families to stay home and watch it.
The Rev. John Steinbruck of Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington has arranged for members of his congregation to view the film with Jewish families each of the four night.
The viewing of the film will cap day of events planned by the Luther Place congregation, which includes a march on the Soviet Embassy in support of persecutted Soviet Jews (particerlarly Yosef Mendelevitch, a Jewish prisoner of conscience in Moscow's Vladimir Prison).
The congregation, will also march on the South African Embassy to protest the political oppression in that country - the symbol, according to Steinbruck, "that the holocaust is being continued even today."
There will be a concert of Jewish religious music at the church following the marches.
"The holocaust today is the fact that there are homeless, hungry, destitute people. It's all inter-related, it's all connected . . . Yet, comfortably we live indifferent to each other while our brothers and sisters suffers in incredible agony," Steinbruck said.
Jewish leaders say they hope the film - because of the wide exposure it will have among youths - will spark more schools to broaden their teaching on the holocaust. "It can't be dismissed with just the phrase . . . 'and many Jews were killed,'" Mann said.
Jewish officials are reluctant to predict the possibe impact of the film on Jews and non-Jewish alike. It might stir up some of the old bitterness, Mann [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]